The season is almost a quarter of the way through. We now have a sample size where we can see trends and form some more definitive opinions. Some players used the first three games as their preseason and are now beginning to get into the groove, while others are regressing back to who they are. There is plenty of time for things to change in the next 13 weeks but two things are quite clear: The Jaguars stink and the Broncos are amazing. On to the games….
Ravens 20 @ Bills 23
Flacco threw the ball 50 times and the team ran the ball 9 times. What do you think happened? The Bills D shut down the Ravens ground game and forced Flacco to play catch up. The Ravens are not built for that type of game. They are a ground and pound team with vertical shots coming off playaction. Flacco ended the day 25/50 347 yds 2 tds 5 ints. 5!!!! Rice had 5 carries for 17 yds with no catches and Pierce had 4 carries for 7 yds with 1 catch. Torrey Smith led the receivers with 5 rec for 166 yds and a td. Marlon Brown had 4 rec for 34 yds and a td. In addition to the 5 ints that the Bills D pilphered off Flacco, they had 4 sacks and 12 qb hits. On offense, EJ Manuel had a tough day against a good Ravens D: 10/22 167 yds 1 td 2 ints. Robert Woods led the way with 4 rec for 80 yds and a td. The ground game was surprisingly effective. Fred Jackson had 16 carries for 87 yds 1 td and CJ Spiller had 23 yds for 77 yds with neither contributing in the pass game. Kind of strange that none of the backs had an impact in the pass game. Anyhoo…The Bills with an impressive win at home against a quality Ravens team.
Bengals 6 @ Browns 17
The Browns win again and the Indians get a wild card slot. What’s next? Lebron James is going back to the Cavs and all three sports franchises will be contenders? What the hell is going on here? Brian Hoyer. Who knew? Freaking genuis Michael Lombardi-that’s who. Hoyer was 25/38 for 269 yds 2 tds 0 ints. Jimmy Graham….I mean Jordan Cameron hauled in 10 for 91 with another td. Ogbonnaya caught the other one. Gordon was held in check with 4 for 71. The running game was paced by McGahee with 15 carries for 46 yds. The Cleveland D is for real. Ray Horton is a great coordinator and he has horses to work with. First round pick Mingo had another sack, but the key to making this defense great is getting Skrine to play well opposite shut down corner Hayden. Skrine answered the bell today with an int. They held a potent Bengals attack to 266 yds of total offense. Dalton was 23/42 206 yds 1 int. Gio Bernard led the run game with 10 carries for 37 yds. He also caught 6 for 38. The Law Firm had 6 carries for 13 yds. AJ Green had 7 rec for 51 yds. The week 4 sleeper, Sanu, only had 3 rec for 19 yds due to Skrine.
Bears 32 @ Lions 40
This game was not as close as the final score indicates. The Lions led 30-13 at halftime due to a 27 point explosion in the 2nd quarter. Reg-gie!!! Reg-gie!!! Bush triumphantly returned after missing week 3 with 18 carries for 139 yds 1 td and 4 rec for 34. He was quick, explosive and did not show any lingering effects from his multitude of injuries. J. Bell had 7 carries for 12 yds and caught 4 for 30. Stafford was 23/35 242 yds 1 td 1 int. Megatron was only 4 for 44 1 td. The leading receiver was Pettigrew…who knew? with 7 rec for 54 yds. Da Bears were put into a hole due to Bad Cutler rearing his ugly head. He threw 3 ints but did mount a comeback to end the day with a line of 27/47 317 yds 2 tds. A. Jeffery had 5 rec for 107 yds 1 td, B. Marshall 7 for 79, and M. Bennett 8 for 90. Forte was his usual smooth self with 14 carries for 95 yds, with 53 of those coming on a beautiful td run, and 5 rec for 22 yds. Da Bears D did not score in this game while the Lions D did.
Giants 7 @ Chiefs 31
The Chiefs are the real deal folks. How crazy is the NFL? The Chiefs had the #1 pick in last year’s draft. Now they are undefeated after 4 games. Coaching, coaching, coaching. Like I mentioned in a previous recap, if I ever see Romeo Crennel get a head coaching job again I will puke. Kudos to Andy Reid and to Bob Sutton, who has transformed the defensive unit into one of the tops in the game. Game manager du jour, Alex Smith was 24/41 288 yds 3 tds 2 ints with 7 rushes for 37 yds. J. Charles had 18 carries for 65 yds and caught 5 for 62 1 td. S. McGrath caught 5 for 64 1 td and D. Bowe decided to show his face and caught 4 for 58 yds 1 td. The KC D had an int, 2 fumble rec, 3 sacks and a punt return for a td. What can you say about the Giants? They are 0-4 but at least they fought harder than last week. Eli ended the day 18/37 217 yds 1 td 1 int. Salsa had a huge day with 10 rec for 164 yds 1 td. Nicks didn’t get shutout but only had 3 for 33 yds. Wilson had 13 carries for 55 yds, 2 rec and 0 fumbles. Progress. The schedule gets easier for the Giants but will they have the fortitude to keep fighting?
Steelers 27 @ London Vikings 34
I call conspiracy for this game. Someway, somehow the rules were changed so that the offenses would explode, so that the Londoners would appreciate this football, so that they will embrace a team in their city, so that the NFL can expand and make more money. No? How do you explain the explosion of these two rather pedestrian offenses? I’m open to suggestions. Maybe Big Ben felt inspired playing in the city where the real Big Ben resides? Maybe the Vikings are following the Browns template of inserting _____ at quarterback and hoping for the best? They didn’t trade their best running back yet so…. In all seriousness, this turned out to be one of the more exciting games of the day. Those lucky Londoners. Big Ben was 36/51 for 383 yds 1 td 1 int. A. Brown was magnificent again with 12 rec for 88 yds. Cotchery caught the lone td on 5 for 103. H. Miller is getting back into the groove after offseason knee surgery with 6 for 70. L. Bell looked great with 16 carries for 57 yds and 2 tds. He showed great lateral agility and enough burst to get to the edge. The Vikings were led by none other than All Day. Even in London. Let’s see if he can do this on Mars. He ended with 23 carries for 140 yds 2 tds. Cassel pulled a Hoyer and was 16/25 248 yds 2 tds. Simpson had 7 rec for 124 yds and Jennings caught 3 balls for 92 yds with 2 being tds. The old man still got it. The Vikings D had 5 sacks, 1 int and a fumble rec. The Steelers D had 1 sack. Bizarro world.
Cardinals 13 @ Buccaneers 10
The Buccaneers once again grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory. Leading 10-0 going into the 4th quarter, the Bucs threw 2 ints to allow the Cardinals to score 13 unanswered points for the victory. Another team trying the Browns template, Schiano replaced Freeman and inserted rookie Glennon into the fray. He was decent 24/43 193 yds 1 td but had those 2 costly ints to Peterson in the 4th. V. Jackson was bottled up with 2 for 27. T. Wright had 5 for 41 with Ogletree 5 for 30. M. Williams caught the lone td going 4 for 38. Dougie carried 27 times for 45 yds with 3 catches for 16. It’s gonna be tough sledding for him with Glennon leading the way. The Cardinals were shut down most of the game until the defense gave them a spark and short fields. Palmer ended 21/38 248 yds 1 td 2 ints. Revis got his first int as a Buc. Woohoo!! Fitz led the way with 6 for 68 1 td. Floyd had 5 for 87. The running game was led by Mendenhall with 12 for 21. Ellington had 4 for 29 with both backs catching 3 passes.
Colts 37 @ Jaguars 3
The Teddy Bridgewater sweepstakes winner will be announced very shortly. The Jags, though, will probably trade the pick, move to London, and sign Tim Tebow. Let the Brits deal with them. The Jags are terrible. Why is Gabbert still allowed to quarterback? He was 17/32 179 yds with 3 ints. In his defense, 2 of those were tipped balls off his receivers hands but…I don’t care. He stinks!!! Shorts caught 7 for 61. MJD carried 13 for 23. Guess he doesn’t want to play across the pond. The Colts dominated as they should’ve. Luck was 22/36 260 yds 2 tds 1 int. Wayne was 5 for 100 td and Fleener 5 for 77 td. Hilton also had 5 for 48. A glorified practice session with everyone getting a chance. Richardson carried 20 times for 60 yds 1 td. No Bradshaw this game so Brown carried 3 for 65. The streaming defense candidate of the week did not disappoint. The Colts D had 3 ints, 4 sacks, 1 td, and held the Jags to 205 total yds of offense.
Seahawks 23 @ Texans 20
Gritty win for the Seahawks. They were thoroughly dominated for 3 quarters but managed to come back for the win. Wilson was only 12/23 123 yds 1 int but had 10 rushes for 77 yds. Most of that yardage was escaping the furious Texans pass rush, improvising, and making crucial first downs. Lynch, Baldwin, and Tate all had 3 receptions. Beastmode carried 17 times for 98 yds and a td. The Seahawks D stepped up big time. Sherman intercepted a pass and took it to the house to tie the game with 3 minutes left. On the day, they had 2 ints, 1 fum rec, 4 sacks and the aforementioned td. Schaub had an excellent day expect for that crucial interception. He ended the day 31/49 355 yds 2 tds 2 ints. A. Johnson will get his on anyone-9 for 110. I will always remember Revis always giving props to AJ when he was with the Jets. The key to breaking the Seahawks D is attacking their linebackers underneath and in the seams. The te’s controlled the middle of the field with Daniels catching 6 for 72 and Graham 5 for 69 1 td. Underneath Foster had 6 rec for 69 1 td to go along with his 27 carries for 102. Tate only had 7 for 44 and Hopkins 2 rec for 27. The owners of Foster and AJ can step off the ledge now. The Texans D was stout holding the Seahawks to 270 yds of total offense and accounted for 1 fum rec, 1 int, and 5 sacks. Very disheartening loss for the Texans when they dominated this game. One mistake is all it takes.
Jets 13 @ Titans 38
It was a Pyrrhic victory for the Titans. They dominated the Jets but, in the process, may have lost their franchise quarterback. Locker was 18/24 149 yds 3 tds but injured his hip in the 3rd quarter when he was popped by both Wilkerson and Coples. He was taken to the hospital and his status is currently unknown. Fitzpatrick finished the game going 3/8 108 yds 1 td and could be the Titans’ starter for the forceable future. CJ?k had 15 carries for 21 yds and Battle had 11 for 42. Washington led the receivers with 4 for 105 2 tds. Wright and Williams both had 5 rec. The Jets were brought back to earth after their victory over the Bills last weekend. Gregg Williams continues to call a great defensive game and has his guys playing at a high level. They forced 2 fumbles, 2 ints, 5 sacks, and had a td. Geno was 23/34 289 yds 1 td 2 ints. S. Hill was knocked out of the game on the 2nd play with a head injury. S. Holmes hurt a hamstring and caught 1 for 25. Winslow was the leading receiver with 6 for 73. Cumberland caught the lone td. Powell led the ground attack with 14 carries for 66 yds. Titans are 3-1. Remember the Titans.
Eagles 20 @ Broncos 52
I’m speechless and breathless. Not because of the Mile High air either. This Broncos offense is scary good. Even if I tried to replicate it in Madden, I think I would fall short. Peyton was 28/34 327 yds 4 tds. He sat most of the 4th quarter. Why can’t Belichick coach this team? Peyton would’ve broken the single season touchdown record already. Moreno carried 12 times for 78 yds 1 td. Hillman got 11 for 36. Ball 8 for 24. D. Thomas led the way this time with 9 for 86 2 tds. Welker 7 for 76 2 tds. Decker 5 for 88 and Julius 4 for 43. Yawn. I should just copy and paste this and just insert it into the Broncos section every week. Wow. The Broncos D and ST did a helluva job. They had 3 sacks, a punt return td and limited the Eagles offense to basically 1 td. The other td was in garbage time with Foles throwing it. They held Vick to 14/27 248 yds 0 tds. He did have 8 rushes for 41 yds. The Eagles put up over 400 yds of offense but could not punch it into the endzone, settling for a couple of field goals. That is equivalent to punting the ball with Peyton on the other sideline. The lone rushing td came from Polk. Who? Exactly. Celek led the receivers with 3 for 57. Maehl caught the td from Foles. DeSean had 2 for 34. Boy did the league adjust to Chip Kelly. Press man with safety help over DeSean, key on Shady and let the other receivers roam. Cooper and Avant cannot beat man-to-man coverage. I wish Maclin wasn’t hurt because I believe he’d be a perfect remedy for this defense, but he is so…..Shady ended the day 16 for 73 with only 1 catch. I am a believer in Chip Kelly and am curious to see how he adjusts. I just hope the Philly faithful give him a chance.
Redskins 24 @ Raiders 14
Matt Flynn is a perfect example of why America is the greatest county on the planet. Only in America can you get paid tens of millions of dollars off of one game’s performance in a meaningless regular season game against a porous defense, when you are just not a good quarterback. Flynn had 2 throws on Sunday that could be categorized as decent. One was the touchdown pass to Rivera, but he was wide open so….if he can’t make THAT throw then….The other was the 34 yd “bomb” to Moore in the 1st quarter. While he did complete that pass, if he actually makes a good throw, Moore walks into the end zone with a touchdown. The other throws go like this. A pick six to Amerson on a crossing route to Moore. No business throwing that ball. Raiders were up 14-3 at that point. Bubble screen left. Bubble screen right. Pass to the flat for 2 yds. Pass to the other flat for 2 yds. When asked to throw past 5 yds, he just wouldn’t pull the trigger or would overthrow the intended receiver. Oh I miss Terrelle Pryor. On the day, Flynn ended 21/32 227 yds 1 td 1 int. Run DMC had 5 carries for 29 but exited the game early with a hamstring injury. Jennings replaced him and ran 15 times for 45 yds and caught 8 balls for 71 yds from Captain Checkdown. Moore had 4 rec for 66 and Streater 2 for 18. On the Redskins side, RG3 was 18/31 227 yds 1 td and only ran 3 times for 10 yds. He still does not look like himself. He missed a lot of easy throws early and just is not running with any explosiveness. Alf carried the ball 16 times for 71 yds but left the game with a rib injury. Helu filled in and carried 13 for 41. The Waiter caught 6 for 59 and a td.
Cowboys 21 @ Chargers 30
San Di…e…go…Super Chargers!!!! A renaissance. Rivers 35/42 401 yds 3 tds 1 int. Gates 10 rec 136 yds 1 td. Is LT in the backfield??? You Chargers fans wish. Mathews is still there and carried 19 times for 62 yds. Woodhead caught 5 for 54 with 2 tds. These guys look revitalized with Mike McCoy at the healm. They have been in every game this year. I talked about trends in the intro. The Chargers may be for real. They have an easy schedule and could make some noise in the wild card race. Oh those Cowboys. They got away from the run game…AGAIN and the defense had only 1 sack and gave up 506 yds of total offense. Romo was 27/37 244 yds 2 tds. Dez was Dez with 6 rec for 81 yds 2 tds. Williams filled in for Miles, who was out with a hamstring injury, with 7 for 71. Witten caught 5 for 43. Murray only received 14 carries for 70 and caught 5 for 20. He had a 5.0 avg yet the Cowboys did not feed him the rock. Things that make you go hmmmmmmm. The Cowboys are 9-0 when Murray gets 20 or more attempts. 2-8 when given 10-19 attempts and 2-4 with fewer than 10 attempts. (stats courtesy of Rainer Sabin)
Patriots 30 @ Falcons 23
Another great game Sunday. The first three quarters were like a heavyweight fight, with both boxers sizing each other up and figuring out how best to attack. Then the 4th quarter began and the punches started flying. Brady was 20/31 for 316 yds 2 tds. Edelman, who was shut out the first half, exploded for 7 rec 118yds mostly in the 4th quarter. Thompkins had 6 for 127 and a td. Dobson only had 1 catch. The Patriots pounded the Falcons early with the run mainly with Ridley-11 for 53. Blount had a huge 47 yd td run in the 4th and ended the night 9 for 64. The Pats D only had 2 sacks, but Talib had an int and a huge stop at the end of the game when the Falcons were in the red zone poised to tie the game. Matty Ice led the Falcons with 34/54 421 yds 2 tds 1 int. Tony G finally got up to speed and balled out with 12 rec 149 yds 2 tds. Julio Jones had 6 for 108. Roddy White only had 3 for 28. The run game was shut down. Rodgers carried 7 times for 32 yds with 6 catches for 56. Snelling had a quiet night with 8 carries for 26 yds and only 1 catch.
Whew…I’m tired. Love it that we have Monday Night Football. What a country.
Till next week.